So I turn on the Factor about 45 minutes in to see what’s happening tonight — and guess who’s hosting.

The employees are always the last to know.

Here she is, looking appropriately quizzical in the face of Hernandez’s flamboyant insincerity, as they try to piece out how, precisely, illegal aliens are “the new American pioneers.”

UPDATE BY SEE-DUBYA: Hernandez lied when he says this isn’t identity theft, suggesting that one could just make up a random ten-digit social security number and this employer, Swift Meats, would have accepted it.

Swift Meats was participating in the “Basic Pilot” program, which verified that a Social Security number supplied by a potential applicant was a real, working SSN. If you submit a random series of digits, odds are Basic Pilot would catch you.

The catch: Basic Pilot only checks whether a number is active or not. So it is easily defeated by giving it a valid SSN of an American citizen–thereby stealing his identity. As one developer of more advanced software points out,

“An extremely high percentage of Social Security numbers are appearing to be multiple users these days,” Douglas said. “My best guess at this point is that you’re looking at a good 30 percent of Social Security numbers that are attached to multiple users. We’re seeing a lot of activity in that area. … It’s just become a geometric growth pattern in the last 10 years.”

Basic Pilot has been in use since 1997 and is now housed under the Department of Homeland Security. It’s been touted as one of the best ways to catch fraudulent documentation, but it is failing in catching the more sophisticated fraud seen at Swift. Basically, it’s a case of the criminals beating the system by stealing genuine documentation.

“What you have to realize is you’re talking about very complex forms of fraud, where an individual completely assumes another’s identity,” said Chris Bentley, spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of DHS.

Exit question: who’s using your SSN?